Sample Pack: Amsterdam

Sample Pack: Amsterdam

Sample Pack: Amsterdam

What does your Amsterdam look like? I mean, we all know what it looks like in photos: bikes, canals, canal houses, red lights, flowers, cute cute etc. But what does it really look like to you? Let’s say you have 1,000 photos of Amsterdam spanning centuries and you have to “mosaically” create your own picture, what would that final image look like?

Now try and describe how Amsterdam sounds? Most would probably say something about bikes. The sound of bells, squeaky brakes, chains crying out for oil and fenders whose jingle jangle cuts through the quiet streets. Fair enough, a bit cliche though, no? Try and go deeper, after all it’s a pretty big city with an incredibly rich history. This is what we did at the RBMA x RE:VIVE Workshop,  we asked the participants to do, to write a track that conveys some sonic image of Amsterdam only using the sounds of Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam sounds were provided and curated by The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision as an exclusive RE:VIVE Sample Pack featuring 120 items for participants. Sound and Vision, the Netherlands’ national  AV archive holds over 1.000.000 hours of audio and audiovisual material. It’s best known for holding the Polygoon newsreels narrated by the distinct of the late Philip Bloemendal who never failed to work in some word play (word!). However, what most people probably don’t expect to find is the great variety of field recordings. So this sample pack features some of those as well.

So with this RE:VIVE Sample Pack you will get a microscopic glimpse into the collection and a portion of what participants had access to. If you’d like the whole RE:VIVE x RBMA sample pack drop us a line!

Download the RE:VIVE Amsterdam Sample Pack

Sample Pack details:


Tuning the Baroque-organ (1672) inside of the Old Church, plus the chanting of psalms outside of the church. Polygoon newsreel from 1960, CC BY-SA.

Tommy Theo used this item for his chord stabs on this beautiful track made during the RBMA workshop

2) OudeKerk_Amsterdam_GA–3119-5489.wav

Church bells.


This newsreel from 1967 shows the celebration of Luilak (sleepy head). This is a tradition that shows no mercy to those who like to have a good amount of sleep on the Friday before White Sunday. Basically kids are (were) encouraged to go bonkers in the streets making as much noise as possible early in the morning to wake everyone up. Polygoon newsreel from 1967, CC BY-SA.

4) AlbertCuypmarkt_algemenesfeer_GA–2845-4226.wav

It’s always nice to be reminded of history by references to the pre-Euro era, especially when the nickname of your old 25 cent coin was ‘kwartje’. This nostalgic feel is delivered to you from the hoards of market salesmen on the Albert Cuyp market, who were not afraid to shout something about their ‘buurvrouw’ while hawking goods. We have no idea what he’s saying but it can’t be good.

5) Dappermarkt_Amsterdam_GA–2845-4227.wav

For those who like the east of Amsterdam better…


Two traits of Amsterdammers that have considerably influenced the sounds being heard in the city are their dialect and the fact that they will protest against almost anything. So when they started building metro station Nieuwmarkt in 1974 some people protested. Polygoon newsreel from 1974, CC BY-SA.

7) Tram_compressorblokkerenremmen_Amsterdam_1984_GA-27396-14521.wav

8) Tram_omvormerencompressor_Amsterdam_1984_GA-27395-14515.wav

9) Tram_testennoodoproepmobilofoon_Amsterdam_1984__GA-27396-14523.wav

10) IJ-pont_machinekamer_GA–3663-6573.wav

Next to all these recognizable sounds of Amsterdam there are also some recordings that you will not instantly associate with the main capital. From the testing of tram brakes to the engine room of the pond (ferry) on the IJ River. But sometimes these vague sounds are the most interesting.

All these tram recordings were used by Mill Burray, who made this haunting noise track during the RBMA workshop.

Image via Nationaal Archief CC BY. Sample Pack compiled and curated by Harry van Biessum.


RE:VIVE, CC BY-SA 3.0 Cover image: DRs Kulturarvsprojekt CC BY-SA